The Challenge of Hard Conversations | radioinfo

The Challenge of Hard Conversations

Sunday 13 August, 2017
Image: Shutterstock

Peady's Selling Engagement sponsored by IRD Prospector

Welcome to this week’s post on sales and selling success.

In business there comes a time when a difficult or hard conversation is needed. Perhaps with your sales manager, your peers or a customer.

Some salespeople like to be “liked” and try to avoid conflict but truth be told avoiding or delaying a difficult conversation can hurt your business and professional relationships while creating negative outcomes. And while it’s natural to want to be liked, that’s not always the most important thing.

Lean into the conversation with an open attitude and a genuine desire to learn.

As the legendary Dale Carnegie said: "When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion". This is the key point of this type of conversation - the human emotion!

6 simple steps

When having difficult or hard conversations, it’s natural to want to get it over and done with as soon as possible. But the goal should be to “start a conversation” in every sense.  Furthermore, if you follow the steps below, your conversations will be tremendously productive and ultimately appreciated by the other party.

  1. Be polite and respectful. The conversation should be straight forward and short; try not to be angry or emotional; avoid clouding your message with ‘fluff’ and pointing the finger.
  2. Accept that the other person has a valid position and you are not the only one that’s right because it’s not true and if you bring that mindset, you can be certain that the conversation will be difficult!
  3. Listen carefully and don’t prepare too well. Over-preparing will prevent a genuine exchange of opinions. Allow the flow to uncover all the facts and deal with what’s really happening not what you think happened.
  4. Avoid distractions and be “present” by giving your undivided attention to the conversation and the person you’re having it with. Regularly listen to what your gut is saying.
  5. Don’t make decisions (or judgements) too early because your mind shuts itself off for new, creative and unexpected solutions. The key is to be open, to hear the full story and understand where the other person is coming from.
  6. Accept that emotions will bubble up - manage them. Remember what Dale Carnegie said?

Final point

Handling the difficult or hard conversation requires skill and empathy, but ultimately, it requires the courage to simply go ahead and do it. The more you get into the habit of facing these issues squarely, the better you’ll become at it.

Until next week, good selling!

About the author 

Stephen Pead is a media industry veteran of 30 years with significant experience in direct sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in helping SME’s market their businesses more effectively and providing training for salespeople and sales managers.

He can be contacted at


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